Writer Harold Covington is a famous neo-Nazi and propagandist — and a notorious writer of terrible novels.
In American neo-Nazi circles, Harold Covington is notorious. A long-time member of the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA), he has labored for decades to further racist causes, including working in Rhodesia to preserve white rule and advocating a plan to turn the Pacific Northwest into a white homeland.
Along the way, Covington has made many enemies. He is accused of engineering a coup against his former commandant in the NSPA, and he has run smear campaigns against his rivals, including the late neo-Nazi William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries. These disputes have caused some to allege Covington is a government informant; others say he is a homosexual.
But what most don't realize is that H.A. Covington has another claim to fame. He is a writer of cheesy occult novels.
Of his latest works, the best is The Black Flame, Covington's stab at a medieval murder mystery, complete with the requisite intrigue, derring-do and debauchery. While at times entertaining, the problem is that he piles on too many plot devices and supporting characters.
The back cover advertises "murdering monks, poisoning prioresses, scheming royal uncles, back street assassins, a mad alchemist, and a beautiful and dangerous Queen of the Witches." Throw in some child murders, random torture scenes, derogatory references to homosexuality, and generic pagan/devil/demon-worshiping and what you get reads less like a well-crafted novel than a lurid "but wait, there's more!" TV advertisement.
Making sense of these various narrative elements is the job of Sir Thomas Clave, the Black Knight. Intrepid and unflappable to a fault, Sir Thomas plays the role of a proto-Sherlock Holmes out to solve the mystery of a murdered royal bastard and a secret society called the Black Flame. Like most 15th-century private detectives, he is highly intelligent and supremely analytical, able to predict his opponents' moves far in advance.
(Note: so can the reader.)
He is also one terrifying guy. The king's executioner and master of all forms of torture, Sir Thomas dresses only in black, because it "doesn't show bloodstains overmuch" and he has a patented look so scary that, when practicing it before a mirror, "I frighten even myself."
Such campiness aside, the "troubling" part of the novel comes when Covington finally reveals the mystery of the Black Flame. He describes with dread the coming of a "demonic new world order" characterized by, horror of all horrors, gender equality, social tolerance and individual rights.
Covington, it seems, prefers the world of 15th-century England with its patriarchal privilege, hereditary rule and ethnic allegiance. But then what should one expect from a neo-Nazi?
Of lesser note is The Stars in Their Path: A Novel of Reincarnation. As the title suggests, this work is based on the idea that human souls do not perish at death, but are reborn. Where Covington gets into trouble is when he takes this ancient Hindu concept, blends it with an apocalyptic Christian vision, and overlays it with trite theories about the powers of "The Light" and "The Dark" and feminine and masculine natures. If it sounds confused, that's because it is.
The whole story boils down to a cosmic love triangle in which a good woman, Margarita, needs to pick the good man, Aristide, and instead chooses, over and over again, the bad man, a scheming Spaniard named Don Carlos Ramirez. Only in the last reincarnation will she finally get it right. Why she finally sees The Light as a Russian émigré at a tech firm in the Pacific Northwest is a mystery worthy of Carnac the Magnificent.
For a confirmed National Socialist, Harold Covington has always been an amusing character, upbraiding his enemies in the most colorful language imaginable. Surely, his failure to translate that dubious talent into popular occult literature is a small gift for which the human race can feel truly grateful.
Kevin Hicks teaches literature at Alabama State University.